When we signed the contract on our little farm, I was nervous but excited. Once we built everything and reality set in that my horses were going to be in my care 24/7, I had a mild panic attack. I talked to my trainer and told her that I knew I was an experienced horse person and could handle most but what do I do if something happens and I don’t know to do?
She looked at me and said “You call me”
With that I felt better about the responsibility but still worried about time. Both Chris and I work full time and travel fairly often for work. I leave the house at 7 and don’t get home until 6 as my office is on the other side of town. He works about 5 miles down the road, so he leaves later and gets home earlier.
In the past few months we’ve developed a system to keep the work load manageable for both of us. Because he isn’t a horse person, I do feel guilty if I don’t do the majority of the work. Chris doesn’t care.
AM: I typically wake up around 5-530 and I throw a coat on and head outside around and bring the boys in if they are out. If they stayed in over night, I check water and give both a flake of hay. If they are wearing blankets, I swap them out for what they need for the day. Then I feed them and let our barn cats out.
Chris will then turn them out before he goes to work. If its going to stay below freezing he also will dump all non-heated water buckets.
PM: Chris gets home before me, so he will bring in Marcus, feed him and refill water buckets if they have been dumped. When I get home, I clean stalls and prep them for the next day. If water buckets are gross, they get dumped, scrubbed and refilled. Then I bring in Frankie and feed him in his stall. I’ll ride then change blankets, and if its above 30, I turn the boys back out for the night. I round the barn cats up, and feed them. Before I head in, I prep their AM feed in blue feed bags so I can just grab and dump in the morning.
While we can get some things done after work in the summer when the days are long, we often do most of our farm maintenance work on the weekends. This includes stripping stalls (if needed), dragging the ring, harrowing the fields, stacking hay and spreading manure. We can get most of what we need done in an afternoon. In the summer we have the added task of mowing, but since most of our land is pasture, this only adds a few hours.
I try to make riding a priority since I have two horses. I try to ride both on each weekend day if I can, then during the week I will alternate days so that both horses are being worked 4-5 days a week. I have a college girl who rides each of mine once a week for me, and I have learned to not worry as much if I cant ride because of weather or footing. I used to fret if I didn’t get my horses worked at least every other day but now I’ve realized sometimes it just doesn’t work out.
I will slack on other things like sweeping, cleaning tack or making stalls spotless if it means I will have time to ride. I don’t spend hours grooming during the week-I clean the mud and crud off where its important and go with it. These things don’t affect my horses welfare but help me with time management during the week.
So while time consuming, the work is manageable and I love having my horses at home.
Chris and I both travel a fair bit for work, luckily right now its more him than me. He is good about taking care of the horses when I am gone but I feel bad leaving him with all of that responsibility. When he’s gone, I just wake up a bit earlier so that I can feed and turn out before work, or I cash in a few of the IOUs my boarders have accumulated over time as ask them to turn out for me.
We both love to travel for fun and we didn’t want to give that up when we moved the horses home. Luckily we have a couple really awesome farm sitters that take as good of care of the horses as we do. They aren’t cheap but we do factor that into our “Fun Money” travel savings. I will make it as simple as possible when we are gone-if its above freezing, the horses only have to come in to eat. I bag all AM and PM feed for them and leave a list of what blanket when for both horses.